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Published September 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Electoral Institutions and Legislative Behavior: The Effects of Primary Processes


Electoral institutions can affect the voting behavior of legislators who are elected through those institutions. In this article, the authors apply social network theory to study patterns of legislative choices under different primary election systems, and this approach leads the authors to study how electoral institutions affect legislative behavior differently than most previous research—that is, they focus on how electoral institutions affect the interactions between legislators. The authors use data on legislative voting behavior from the California State Assembly and exploit the changes that have been implemented in California's primary elections process over the past two decades. Specifically, they hypothesize that legislators who were elected during the years in which a nonpartisan blanket primary was used in California (1998 and 2000) will be more centrally networked and more likely to compromise with other legislators. They find evidence to support their hypothesis: legislators elected under the nonpartisan blanket primary are more likely to agree with other legislators. Electoral institutions, especially primary elections, have important effects on legislative behavior. The authors' results have implications for highly polarized state legislatures.

Additional Information

© 2012 University of Utah. Published online before print January 6, 2012. We thank Delia Bailey for her work on a related project. We also thank Zabrae Valentine and Tony Quinn for comments on this project. We thank Jon Rogowski for research assistance. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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Published - Political_Research_Quarterly-2012-Alvarez-544-57.pdf


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August 19, 2023
October 19, 2023